Mediaplanet: What is the biggest misconception about cancer treatment and care?

Michael Caligiuri: The biggest misconception is that cancer can be treated routinely as one disease no matter where it originates. Through molecular research we now understand that no two cancers are alike; each person’s cancer is unique based on its biological characteristics. Each treatment must be tailored precisely to the patient’s malignancy.

Ali Sadeghi: The biggest misconception about cancer is that all cancer patients with the same cancer will need the same treatment. The fields of medical and surgical oncology specialize in providing the latest treatments for cancer patients. Not every breast cancer patient will end up with the same treatment.

MP: In your opinion, what is the most important advancement helping patients today?

MC: I would say it’s the rise of precision cancer medicine, which uses the genetic mutation causing the cancer to guide us toward individually targeted treatment for each patient. This approach will continue moving us from organ- to a molecular-based classification of cancer that helps us better care for each patient.

"The biggest misconception about cancer is that all cancer patients with the same cancer will need the same treatment."

AS: Screening imaging modalities for breast cancer detection along with availability of genetic testing to identify high risk individuals or groups for prophylactic treatments in prevention of cancers. The testing for BRCA 1 and 2 genes, amongst other breast cancer related genes, is a large advancement helping patients today.

MP: What can patients look forward to in your particular field for the future?

MC: As scientists learn more about the biological mechanisms of cancer, patients can look forward to receiving more effective treatments that combat their individual cancer on a molecular level. Also promising are our expanding capabilities in immune therapy as we find ways to reverse cancer’s methods for suppressing the immune system.

AS: In the field of reconstructive microsurgery we are focusing on customizing breast cancer reconstruction for every patient. Natural tissue reconstruction, along with treatment of lymphedema, are dramatically impacting the future of breast cancer reconstruction.